I think that because this is an excerpt from a book (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which is apparently a parenting memoir - and according to one review, while her older daughter was very much the "model" daughter, apparently the younger daughter challenged and fought her alot)... anyhow, we may be missing something from the larger context. She seems to be painting both "Chinese mothers" and "western mothers" with a very broad brush, but it's hard for me to understand - to what end is she making these generalizations?
I think that sapphire_chan's point about context is good. Behavior that is normative for your culture is rarely traumatic. My mom had me kneeling on rice and holding books for what was probably hours rather frequently. Over stuff like practicing the piano (I never got very good), doing my homework (still working on being organized!), not doing the dishes (I don't do them every day, but I do hate the mess). And while I don't think it's a good memory, I don't resent her for it.. oh I resent her for other stuff, lol, but not the bizarre punishments - but only because I understand that it was normative for her. At the same time, I do not see myself using these kinds of disciplinary practices with my daughter because we live in a very different context. I contemplated it, but as I've gotten to know my daughter, I realized that I can hardly imagine doing it. But my mom very much shared Chua's idea that she needed to push us to achieve the best because we were capable of the best - and that her duty of love was to shape and guide us rather than leaving us to flounder. And if she had to beat us to get the point across - it would be shirking her most sacred duty to falter. I did not like it. At times I've felt it was just- what was. Other times, felt it was unfair. In most ways I think my feelings are no different than most of my friends raised in a more mainstream american way.
Anyhow, there's very much an ethic of a more interdependent type of society, the kind where you never "grow up and move away from home" - you stay in the ancestral home or your husband's ancestral home - and definitely a legacy of Confucianism.
This article made me think about how it's hard to repudiate the fundamental perspective of my mother's mothering - I'm sure it's hard for everyone. I think about it alot... and in the end I think I don't repudiate it, even if I'm not sure how or if I could carry it on. I do often think that our secret, third culture of no homeland will die out with me. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. I do know that I am a lot less close to my mother than I think would be ideal because of this difference of perspective.
edit: I also want to foreground that I think it's a common phenomenon for immigrants and children of immigrants to live in a third culture that is a hybrid of the ancestral culture as it was -almost like a snapshot - at the time that they left, and the new and changing mainstream they live in. But there's no such thing as "true" culture of anything, since it's always changing. But being in this "culture bubble" almost makes you more resistant to change because you are outside of any mainstream to change with.
Edited by cyclamen - 1/8/11 at 8:58pm